Few things are harder to get rid of than whiteheads. You may be super-fastidious about personal hygiene, and yet, every time you look in the mirror, numerous white bumps are staring back at you. What is their deal? Why do they form? And can you prevent them? Get the lowdown right here, along with tips on how to remove whiteheads and keep them from coming back.
What is that white spot?
A whitehead looks like a slightly raised white spot on your skin. Unlike pimples, whiteheads are not red and do not contain pus. Both are types of acne though: pimples are a form of inflammatory acne, whereas whiteheads are a type of non-inflammatory acne.
Blackheads are another form of non-inflammatory acne, and they look like dark spots. Whiteheads and blackheads appear when the pores get clogged with oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. Whiteheads are also known as closed comedones because the plugged pore gets sealed shut. Blackheads are called open comedones because the pore remains open despite the blockage.
Whiteheads are very common on the nose, but they also show up on other parts of the face, chest, and back. Some people notice whiteheads on their neck, shoulders, and upper arms as well. Basically, the bumps show up anywhere that has a large number of sebaceous glands. These glands produce sebum, an oily substance that keeps the skin lubricated and supple.
What’s causing your whiteheads?
If you have been wondering how to remove whiteheads on the nose and elsewhere, start by understanding how they form:
- Sometimes the sebaceous glands produce too much sebum, making the skin oily.
- The excess oil attracts dirt and grime. It also prevents the natural shedding of dead skin cells.
- The oil, dirt, and dead skin stick together, creating blockages in the pores.
- Now, sebum produced by the sebaceous glands gets trapped behind these blocked pores.
- As more sebum accumulates behind the pores, whiteheads begin to appear.
And it all starts with excess oil. What causes the overproduction of sebum? Hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, or pregnancy are often to blame. Some medicines may also push up sebum levels. If either of your parents struggled with acne, you might be prone to oily skin and whiteheads already.
Friction could also have a role to play. If you wear tight clothes or headgear like helmets, the friction could irritate the skin and lead to whiteheads.
How to prevent whiteheads
Now that you know the reasons behind those white spots, let’s focus on how to avoid them:
- Pick ‘non-comedogenic’ formulas: Products labelled ‘non-comedogenic’ do not clog the pores or lead to comedones. When buying hair and skin care products or even cosmetics, make sure the package says ‘non-comedogenic’. These are usually oil-free and will not trigger whiteheads.
- Make cleanliness a habit: Make sure to shampoo regularly, remove all traces of makeup before bed, and rinse off any sweat soon after perspiring. Whiteheads are not always a sign of poor hygiene, but keeping your skin and hair clean is a basic preventive step. (Acne due to dandruff can be a real problem!)
- Commit to a skin regimen: Washing your face multiple times a day and scrubbing aggressively is overkill—and it might trigger fresh breakouts. Be gentle with your skin instead. Use a mild cleanser twice a day, apply toner, and massage in some moisturiser.
- Keep those hands off: Some of us cannot resist picking at whiteheads. But a hands-off approach is better for your complexion. Picking at whiteheads can spread acne bacteria, as well as irritate the skin, leaving you prone to breakouts and scars.
How to remove whiteheads permanently
Whiteheads are a mild form of acne but they can be unsightly. The right approaches will help you minimise them!
- Target the acne problem: Look for cleansers and serums that contain acne-fighting ingredients like tea tree oil, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide. You could also shop for whitehead removal creams specifically. There are also multifaced products like Clearica Anti-Acne Cream which remove pore blockages (thus preventing whiteheads) and inhibit the spread of acne bacteria and inflammation.
- Consult a dermatologist: If over-the-counter formulas don’t sort out your whitehead problem within three months, meet with a dermatologist. The doctor might suggest prescription-strength retinoids for mild acne or prescribe antibiotics if your breakouts are severe. Sometimes, the dermatologist might use a comedone extractor to safely remove the whiteheads. Try not to extract whiteheads on your own, as doing it improperly could cause scarring.
Life’s too short to worry about whiteheads. They may be unsightly but you can beat them. Now that you have a roadmap on prevention and removal, get cracking on those white spots. It is time to remove them from your skin and from your life!
Disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a recommendation or for diagnostic purposes. Please consult your dermatologist or doctor before acting on any of the information provided here.